By Deborah Skousen
In pursuit of school vouchers, Parents for Choice has recruited supporters to run against targeted lawmakers in November?s legislative election.
After thwarted efforts in the past to have school-voucher proposals ratified, Parents for Choice now seek influence within the legislature, promising big campaign donations to their candidates.
Enormous amounts of money come from out of state to support the Parents for Choice candidates, said Rep. LaWanna Shurtliff, R-Ogden, who is among the six lawmakers that have been singled out for defeat.
Other targeted lawmakers include Republicans Dave Cox of Lehi, Kory Holdaway of Taylorsville, Dave Hogue of Riverton and Sheryl Allen of Bountiful. Parents for Choice have also targeted Democrat Jim Gowans of Tooele.
Although these legislators come from different cities, they all share a common belief: opposition to school vouchers.
?I am not in favor of taking money from an under-funded education system to give to private schools,? said Shurtliff, a retired Ogden High School educator.
Utah already gives about $300 less per child to public education than any other state, according to Shurtliff.
?I have surveyed my constituents every year for the past eight years and they always say the same thing,? said Sheryl Allen, an em-ployee of Davis School District. ?Sixty-seven percent of my constituents don?t want school vouchers.?
Supported candidate Carl Wimmer, who is running against Hogue, said he considers parental rights and parental choice in education one of his top priorities. He said he wants to help parents who couldn?t normally afford to pay for private school, and is certain he can do so without raising taxes.
In several states throughout the country, money paid on property taxes follows a child, Wimmer said. If children are pulled out of a public school they receive a voucher that will follow them to the next school they are enrolled in. It only takes a small amount of money, already going toward education, and puts it toward another facility.
Although Parents for Choice candidates are receiving large financial contributions, Shurtliff, who is running against supported can-didate George Garwood Jr., said her opponent?s financial backing does not faze her.
?You just have to go out there and run your race,? she said. ?I have had substantial wins in my district before, and even though my opponent is a strong opponent, I still think I can beat him.?
Who is running against whom?
Supported candidates: Incumbents:
Mark Jacobs Sheryl Allen
George Garwood Jr. LaWanna Shurtliff
Jess Clifford Jim Gowans
Milton Witt Kory Holdaway
Carl Wimmer Dave Hogue
Ken Sumsion Dave Cox